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Molly Ashe Cooks Up a Victory in the Grand Prix at HITS-on-the-Hudson VI

Saugerties, New York – August 3, 2006 – Molly Ashe and Cocu stayed cool under pressure in the sweltering heat of the mid-afternoon to take the win in the $25,000 Grand Prix at HITS-on-the-Hudson VI.

They beat out a field of 29 competitors who braved afternoon temperatures that reached into the mid-90s by the start of the Grand Prix competition. Add in the humidity and the heat index was over 100 degrees.

The heat appeared to take its toll, draining both horses and riders of energy. A fair number of riders – six in all – either retired mid-way through round one or were eliminated due to refusals. A good number of horses simply ran out of steam in the hot, muggy weather.

Ashe was one of a lucky few who got a break when clouds momentarily blocked the sun and a breeze kicked up.

“The breeze helped,” she said. “It was also good that you could give the horses a break between rounds.”

Adding to the misery of the heat and humidity was a difficult course. Designed by Anthony D’Ambrosio, the course rode with a fair number of twists and turns that made it hard for riders to properly set up for the next line. Often, courses designed for the Thursday afternoon Grand Prix during a HITS series week are a bit forgiving to help out younger, less experienced horses. However, this Thursday course was a challenge.

“I think the horses had to be seasoned a little bit or experienced or really on the job to get through this,” said Ashe, of Wellington, Florida.

“And that’s just what Cocu is,” she said. The German-bred mare is 14, so she’s got some experience. Ashe has had her for three years and prior to that the mare was with Leslie Howard.

“She’s a great horse because she always tries and she’s game to do her job every day,” Ashe said.

Cocu easily negotiated the first-round course that Ashe said was much “trickier than it walked.” The course had two particularly difficult jumps. One was a double combination with a liverpool.

“That combination was off in the distance a bit and had an awkward approach into the line. It jumped hard for the horses,” Ashe said.

Indeed, getting to that combination required a nearly 90-degree turn to the left over an oxer. As a result, that jump kept a good number of riders out of the jump-off.

“Another bogey was that in-and-out down at an end. It had that triple bar that was wide followed by the vertical,” Ashe said.

Despite the difficulty of the course, eight riders made it into the jump-off where only three went clear. Aside from Ashe, the other two clear riders were Todd Minikus riding Pavarotti and Patty Stovel riding Shandor 41. Minikus finished second.

Ashe was pleased with the win, but not for herself. She was happy for Cocu because “she deserves this.” For herself, she would have been happy with a lesser placing and perhaps that lack of self-pressure is what kept her so cool in the final round.

“I went in planning to go as fast as I could go but leave the jumps up because I had a few behind me. I was going for the clear. That was the most important thing. If I did that, it’d be a nice ribbon either way.”

RESULTS - $25,000 Grand Prix at HITS-on-the-Hudson VI

1 322 COCU – Molly Ashe – 0-0/44.11

2 471 PAVAROTTI – Todd Minikus – 0-0/45.02

3 697 SHANDOR 41 – Patty Stovel – 0-0/46.48

4 533 GENESIS JUMPING SPORT – Simon Nizri – 0-4/43.18

5 716 FATALIS FATUM – Federico Sztyrle – 0-4/43.42

6 532 CATARO ASK – Simon Nizri – 0-4/44.02

7 651 B C O OLYMP – Eliza Shuford – 0-25/66.32

8 844 PINA COLADA – David Raposa – 0-28/65.89

9 856 RONYA – Marley Goodman – 1/90.79

10 77 SAMANTHA – Laura Chapot – 4/80.54

11 893 MIANTA – Callan Solem – 4/81.90

12 720 LORENA – Federico Sztyrle – 4/84.12

This special report is a preview provided by PhelpsSports.com. Look for the debut of this new equestrian news website during the World Equestrian Games in August. Visit http://www.PhelpsSports.com for more information.


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